Posted in faith, garden of eden, God, repentance

What does it mean to "Walk with God"?

Enoch walked with God, and he was not, for God took him. (Genesis 5:24).

Noah was a righteous man, blameless among the people of his time, and he walked faithfully with God. (Genesis 6:9)

And they were both righteous before God, walking blamelessly in all the commandments and statutes of the Lord. (Zechariah and Elizabeth, Luke 1:6)

I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, (Ephesians 4:1)

Our pastor gave this explanation and example last Sunday in his sermon,

What does it mean to walk with God? I’m sure it means many things. If you think of it this way, walking with each step, back and forth, the two footsteps that we use as we walk with God are the footsteps of repentance and faith. Repentance means that we own the fact that we sin. I’ve acted incorrectly, I’ve acted wrongly. And I put that forward, I confess who I am. And then, I put faith in what Christ has done. … Repentance and faith are the feet that we walk with as we walk with God. It means we continually admit who we are [sinners] and our need; and we continually admit that Christ has met that need.  

Walking with God does not mean perfection. Job is said to be blameless and yet we see Job make mistakes. In the New Testament in Luke we’re told Elizabeth and Zechariah the mother and father of John the Baptist, called “blameless and righteous walking in all the commandments of the Lord” and yet before the chapter is over, Zechariah sins. Does blameless and righteous mean that you’re sinless? No it does not. It means the general direction of your life is toward Jesus.

Pastor teaches High School Bible at a Christian Academy. In discussing being blameless and righteous, one of his students had asked, “Doesn’t blameless mean without blame? How can they not be perfect if they’re called blameless?” Pastor used the example of cross-country running, which is popular at his school.
The trails go through the woods, up muddy hills, over a creek, through fields. Some of the terrain is level and some is difficult. He said picture two runners who start out. However after a while one stumbles and falls down the embankment and into a ditch. The other runner also stumbles and falls in the woods. He said the runner who fell into a ditch got up and angry and frustrated, decided to quit the race and go back to the car. Angrily tearing off his number, he threw that into the ditch.
The second runner is also tired, angry and frustrated. The hills are hard and the race is long. However when he fell, he did not stay down. He did not stomp off the path. He said, “I’m tired but I’m going to keep running. I’m going to run the race.” And he does, finishing at last.
Is there a difference between the two runners? Yes. Did both of the stumble? Yes. We all stumble in many ways. (James 3:2). Did both of them get back up and keep going on the path? No. This is the difference between someone who is walking blamelessly in all the statutes and commandments of God and someone who is not. It is not describing a perfect person.
He gave a good example there and it’s comforting to hear the James verse. Isn’t God good to us in allowing our crazed and mournful hearts to be salved in knowing that He knows we stumble? And in many ways, at that? At least, I know it is true for me. I do stumble in many ways. Is the life trajectory of my walk with God persevering and upward and sanctifying? I believe so. I certainly hope so.
There are only two paths and there are only two guides, one for each path. Jesus guides us on our way on the narrow path. Satan leads us along our way on the broad path.
Can two walk together, except they be agreed? (Amos 3:3, KJV)

Gill: And to a spiritual walk with God, and communion with him, agreement is requisite. 

And they heard the sound of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God among the trees of the garden. (Genesis 3:8)
The moment Adam and Eve were in disagreement with God, they did not walk with Him. 
Agreement with God…walking with Him in all His commands requires repentance and faith. May God bless your walk and my walk with Jesus as we traverse this wonderful, difficult, muddy, beautiful trail through life’s race, until we reach the Celestial City.
Posted in encouragement, grace, repentance, salvation, sin

The Most Terrifying Thing God Can Do: In which I testify to God’s grace in giving me over to my sin

Last week Tim Challies posted an article titled The Most Terrifying Thing God Can Do. It’s a terrifying article. It crushed me reading it and apparently it did for many others as well. I saw this article referred to and re-posted numerous times.

The most terrifying thing God can do is to turn an unsaved person over to his sin. Here is a sample of the scriptural truths the article contains:

We speak often of hell and eternal consequences for sin, but perhaps we give too little attention to God’s action against sin in this world and this life. God’s punishment for sin is sin. His punishment is allowing people to experience the life-stealing, soul-rotting consequences of their sin. He expresses his wrath by allowing them the very thing they want. He does this because when they get the thing they want, it only deepens their destruction. 

In this way, sin is its own punishment. And in all the world I see nothing more terrifying than this: the prospect of God allowing people to experience the full impact and weight of their sinfulness. Nothing is more terrifying than God determining that he will no longer restrain the evil within them.

This is a terrifying thought.

This would be a terrifying event.

For me, the event was not hypothetical. It actually happened. Just before I came to salvation, God turned me over to my sin.

It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God. (Hebrews 10:31)

I’d lived for 43 years as a sinner, but I had one particular besetting sin that consumed me. After so many decades, the Lord turned me over to it and released restraint. He turned me over to my sin so that I’d choke on it, and by virtue of contrast, thirst for His purity and holiness. After a few mercifully short years, I cried for mercy to the God that I would finally acknowledge and my sin that I would finally admit.

I remember the day when I realized that the sin wasn’t so fun anymore. I realized that my sin had me, I didn’t have it. Like a rabbit in a snare, I tried to shake loose of it, and could not. This perplexed me, because I had always been able to do anything I’d set my mind to. This was different. I was trapped. (Romans 7:14)

Now I know that we are slaves to sin, in bondage to it and to the god of this world, satan. But like quicksand, the more I tried to get out of my sin on my own terms and in my own effort, the more I foundered. I truly felt like I was sinking, forever to be engulfed in a toxic brew of my own making, sinking under the weight of it. My lips were only inches above the water and I felt I had only moments to go, relatively speaking, before I’d sink below the surface to rise no more. And it was cold.

Just prior to salvation, I was attempting to chronicle my experience in art, trying to puzzle out in visuals what words could not express. A spiritual process was happening to me, but I did not understand that it was spiritual. I only knew it was something. I was in a 1 Corinthians 2:14 situation. So I thought that whatever was happening to me I could try and figure it out by making visuals instead of words.

I wrote a little book called “Story of a Fly”. I look back on it now and I see clearly that it is a record of my coming to faith. It contains images and groanings my soul was expressing that words could not convey. As for the title, I think flies are disgusting, and I had no idea why I chose a fly to represent me, the main character in my little book. In retrospect, it was because I was under bondage to satan, also mentioned in the bible as the Lord of the Flies (Baal-zebub or Beelzebul).

In my book, I ‘knew’ there existed a secret kingdom, existing in the midst of and alongside the world I could see. I wanted to go there.

I’d traveled a good deal out in the American West. One of the native mythologies was a trickster god called Kokopelli. He plays the flute and is seen as a spirit of music. He’s also a fertility god and god of agriculture. In my deepest recesses I ‘felt’ that a trickster god was preventing me from obtaining the kingdom, represented below. I called him the ‘fly-wrangler’.

I was searching, seeking, making a long and winding road…but not obtaining this kingdom I wanted to enter so badly.

I felt I was so close and was about to triumphantly enter the kingdom! But there was a barrier. It was insurmountable.

It felt like I was a fly in a jar, captured. I was free to fly around in the jar but not free to get out and go into the kingdom. It was very frustrating. Of course, this feeling I’d had I now know was the weight of sin. Psalm 38:4 is so true! Without repenting no one can ever enter the kingdom of God. I had to deal with my sin.

I could not figure out why I was not enjoying the peace I’d so longed for. I was trying so hard! Yet now I know-

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast. (Ephesians 2:8-9)

All the while, God had given me over to my sin, which I still pursued, though I did not want to anymore. The law of diminishing returns was clearly demonstrating that it was not a worthwhile pursuit.

And that is the last page of the little book. The last page depicts a woman who was well and truly locked in sin. Being given over to sin is truly terrifying. There is a soul-numbing effect that God’s release to sin as punishment has on a person. At least it did to me. The grief is violent, desperate, physical, all-consuming. Spiritual torment! And yet I didn’t know what I was grieving over!

I left many more subsequent pages in the book because I ‘knew’ the story was not going to end there. I did not know what to do next or what would happen next, but the girl was not going to be left in the jar. It just couldn’t end this way…could it? But the grief was an agony.

Not too long after I decided that my sin was the hindrance. I repudiated it. I sought God, who was holy and I repented. Of course the Lord enlivened my spirit and drew me to that point. I had not a clue what to do except wallow in my sin and cry. It was the Lord who was the catalyst.

And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved… (Ephesians 2:1-5)

Being given over to sin is terrifying. That feeling never left me. It fuels me, it haunts me. Sin is a terrible thing. Even more terrifying is God allowing us to bask in it, wallow in it, then sink in it. Obey the Lord. Be grateful for His grace. He saved us from a ghastly fate.

Posted in bible, jonathan edwards, repentance, revival, sinners in the hands of an angry god, valley of vision

Marks of a True Spirit-initiated Revival

The Book of Acts is such a wonderful book to study. I’m fascinated by what the Spirit brings to mind each time I read through it. On Wednesday night we were studying the end of chapter 13 and the beginning of 14. I was thinking about Acts chapter 13, verse 42. Here are the rabbit trails I went down after I got home and in the succeeding two days 🙂

As they went out, the people begged that these things might be told them the next Sabbath. (Acts 13:42)

Antioch. From Wikipedia

I focused on the word “begged”. Isn’t it wonderful that the people BEGGED to hear more of the Word. Begged to hear more of the Good News. It seemed important. Begged.

I started thinking of the reaction of people to the Gospel that Acts shows us. Shortly after the verse 42 was this one in v. 44

The next Sabbath almost the whole city gathered to hear the word of the Lord.

What a wonderful work of the Spirit! To ignite an entire city’s heart so that almost all of them turned out! I know that among the crowd would like be some rubber-neckers, others would be sent to spy on them (Gal 2:4) but still, almost an entire city eager and begging to hear of the Gospel. It blesses the heart and refreshes the mind to even think of such a thing happening today.

That thought brought me to another city that turned out to hear the message from God, this time, not Good News but Bad News: impending Divine wrath. Jonah preached only one day into a three-day walk sized city and immediately they were repenting already. (Jonah 3:3-4). Again, another amazing move of the Spirit.

Turning from those days to Enfield CT when Jonathan Edwards preached Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God, I was thinking of the Spirit’s lack of move in Edwards’ own congregation. He’d preached the same sermon to his own people but it fell like a lead balloon. When Edwards was invited to preach at Enfield, it had an immediate impact, the historically verified one we know of today.

The Dictionary of Bible Themes defines revival as

The soveriegn activity of God whereby he renews his people individually and corporately in vigour, affecting both sincerity of belief and quality of behaviour.

What seems to be the marks of a real revival? In looking at Antioch, Nineveh, and Enfield CT the same things are present:

–an immediate response (eagerness to hear more of God’s word, repentance)

–widespread impact (in the case of the Woman at the Well, her individual conversion resulted in telling the Good News to the town, which all showed up asking Jesus to stay and tell them more as per John 4:40. In the case of the corporate conversion, the people at Antioch wanted to hear more and all showed up the next week to listen to Paul.)

–demonic opposition (angry Pharisees, plots, riots, rejection. Even as Edwards was lauded for the sermon and people begged to hear it over and over from different pulpits to which he was invited, after a several-year fight he was dismissed from his own pastorate for trying to lead them away from the liberalism and compromise in the Half-Way Covenant).

It’s so strange to think of the Spirit’s move in masses of people. In Nineveh, widespread repentance. In Jerusalem, widespread rejection of Jesus and His followers. In Antioch, widespread acceptance (at least, a curiosity without rancor). In Lystra, they drove Paul out and stoned him. In June 1741 in Northampton, Edwards’ sermon was received without murmur. A month later in Enfield, they tore their clothes and begged to be saved.

It seems that after repentance, the very least one should see in a genuinely converted or revived person or corporate entity is eagerness to hear the Word preached, to study it, and proclaim it. After that, one should expect to see lives that align with the repentance they professed, in the form of a personal hatred of sin and progressive sanctification as their old man dies and the New Man is growing in them. Last, one should expect to see perseverance of the saints. The genuinely revived or converted will not fall away

The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.” John 3:8

Matthew Henry wrote,

The Spirit sends his influences where, and when, on whom, and in what measure and degree, he pleases. Though the causes are hidden, the effects are plain, when the soul is brought to mourn for sin, and to breathe after Christ.

The Faithlife Study Bible Commentary says,

3:8 wind The Greek word pneuma can mean “wind,” “breath,” or “spirit.” John uses the metaphor of the wind as a power that is felt but unseen to explain the power of the Spirit of God. This echoes God’s Spirit hovering before His creative works began—providing credence for the Spirit that Jesus initiates among all believers being one with God the Father as well (1:2). The creative act of God will enter people, becoming the source of their transformation back into God’s image.

The Holy Spirit’s work in salvation individually or corporately, is a wondrous strange thing.

Lord Jesus, I sin. Grant that I may never cease grieving because of it, never be content with myself, never think I can reach a point of perfection. Kill my envy, command my tongue, trample down self. Give me grace to be holy, kind, gentle, pure, peaceable, to live for Thee and not for self, to copy Thy words, acts, spirit, to be transformed into Thy likeness, to be consecrated wholly to Thee, to live entirely to Thy glory. Valley of Vision

Posted in encouragement, king saul, repentance, sin

A sin-sick mind: King Saul’s journey into darkness

We read many times in the bible that sin corrupts the mind. A mind without Christ will not work right, it will be blind, deluded, corrupt, twisted.

The perversion of a sin-sick mind varies from person to person. Not all people are as totally evil as they could be. But sin piling upon sin will corrupt the mind in increasingly evil ways. Here is one example: King Saul.

I wrote recently about Saul and David. Saul was king, the people’s choice and God allowed it. Yet when David had earned victories and the people sang of them, Saul became jealous. In jealousy, Saul cast a wary eye against David. What happened then? The next day an evil spirit came to Saul. (1 Samuel 18:7-10).

The point of that essay was to show how quickly sin will rise and seize the opportunity to magnify itself in a man’s heart and mind. Sin does not wait for a second invitation. Sin does not lollygag. Sin pounces at any opportunity, with all haste.

The point of this essay, in still viewing King Saul through the biblical lens, is to see how sin that’s unaddressed degrades a man’s mind.

David plays the harp for Saul, Rembrandt

Some time has gone by, and Saul is by now deeply tormented by David. He has no cause to be. David is Saul’s servant, gaining the king victories. David never gave reason or cause to Saul for any lack in his duties as servant and subject. David played the lyre to soothe Saul. David has made no move against Saul and has only supported Him. Yet Saul is jealous. Saul threw a javelin against David while David played music for Saul. David escaped the piercing. It must have been the hand of God, for Saul was large and tall, skilled in battle, and one would surmise Saul’s javelin did not miss his target in close quarters. Yet it did.

David ran. His wife, Michal, told Saul’s messengers who appeared as his house that David was in bed, sick.

And when Saul sent messengers to take David, she said, “He is sick.” Then Saul sent the messengers to see David, saying, “Bring him up to me in the bed, that I may kill him.” (1 Samuel 19:14-15).

Saul’s fear, envy, jealousy, insecurity … all negative values that show us Saul was not standing in the hand of the LORD. His negativity had grown to monstrous proportions. Monstrous, because Saul purposed to kill his servant. His servant was said to be sick, in bed, and Saul decided to kill him in bed. Saul said he will kill his servant David while David was at his most vulnerable and could not even fight back.

This is a perverted mind and a blackened heart. Of course, David was not actually sick, his wife was trying to gain her husband time for David to flee. However, Saul’s act here was a watershed.

You’ve heard the phrase, “he drifted in and out of consciousness”? Saul had been drifting in and out of God. He was in God’s hand at his anointing. Samuel the prophet tells this to Saul:

Then the Spirit of the Lord will rush upon you, and you will prophesy with them and be turned into another man. Now when these signs meet you, do what your hand finds to do, for God is with you. (1 Samuel 10:6-7)

Saul threatening David, by José Leonardo.

Here Saul learned the Spirit would be:

  • with him
  • equipping him
  • giving success to him

Initially all was well. But then Saul disobeyed and gave an unlawful sacrifice, and he lied to Samuel the Prophet about it. Events in Saul’s life and kingship lost their luster and eventually “the Spirit of the Lord departed from Saul, and a harmful spirit from the Lord tormented him.” (1 Samuel 16:14)

Verse 23 of that same chapter shows us that the harmful/evil spirit came to Saul and at times departed from Saul, usually when David was playing the lyre. Saul drifted in and out.

In 1 Samuel 18:10 when the harmful spirit tormented Saul, this time Saul began raving. Here is the key:

Saul was afraid of David because the Lord was with him but had departed from Saul. … And when Saul saw that he had great success, he stood in fearful awe of him. (1 Samuel 18:12, 15)

Saul was looking at man, and not at God.

Saul knew the reason for his troubles and the reason for David’s success. Does not Saul believe God is a mighty God and a loving God and a listening God? If Saul had humbled himself before the LORD and asked for forgiveness of his jealousies and violence against a man of GOD, does Saul believe the LORD would not have forgiven? Saul knew he was out of the LORD’S will and pleasure but Saul remained in awe of David, not in awe of God. Saul refused the antidote that was poisoning his mind and polluting his heart.

Repentance.

What a joy we have in our Savior, Jesus Christ. He shed the last blood the Father will ever need. He stands with the Father, interceding for us in our sins.

For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. (Hebrews 4:15)

Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted. (Hebrews 2:18)

God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. (2 Corinthians 5:21)

The truly gracious gift to us from the Father is Jesus, who atoned for our sins. When we do sin after conversion, He listens and accepts and forgives. We need not fear the departure of the Spirit as the Spirit departed Saul, and we have the bible as our holy writ to guide us into all truth. It is on this foundation we stand, and looking to Him, our Savior and our Friend, when we repent.

We live in a truly gracious age! We should celebrate our opportunity to repent, be forgiven, and grow in renewing our minds with pure truth of holy scripture. Once converted and justified by grace, our minds are no longer degraded and polluted, but it is still our responsibility to read the bible so as to renew it in truth. It is our responsibility to wash ourself daily with it. It is our responsibility to pray mightily to God for forgiveness of our daily sins, and appeal to our High Priest who stands at the ready to bring our cares and sins and woes to the Father. David washed himself often in prayer to God in repentance and in heartfelt plea for forgiveness.

Saul and the witch of Endor, Gustave Dore

More than that, what a joy it is to do so! Saul did not, and ended up in 1 Samuel 28 where all people with unaddressed sin end up: at the devil’s door. In this case, the Witch of Endor’s house. In his sin-sick mind, when Saul finally sought to address his problem, it was too late. His mind was too far gone to think right.

And when Saul inquired of the Lord, the Lord did not answer him, either by dreams, or by Urim, or by prophets. (1 Samuel 28:6).

And so Saul went to the devil ‘to inquire’ of the devil instead of to God. Worse, Saul swore to her ‘by the LORD.’ Oh, Saul wretch of a man, swearing to the devil by the precious LORD! What has Light to do with darkness?

David did pray and repent often and seek to live in God’s will, and ended even his most tearful prayer in hope and joy and peace at pouring out his woes to God. David was called a man after God’s own heart (Acts 13:22), not because he never sinned. Why did David’s mind not become sin-sick as Saul’s did? Because when David sinned (unlike Saul) he repented and in so doing saw God ever more clearly as the savior, protector, gracious and revered Eternal Hope.

Posted in dependence, israel, prophet, repentance, samuel

Always depend on the LORD Jesus

I’m reading through 1 Samuel right now. The Old Testament is such a majestic book.

1 Samuel 8 is the time when all Israel called for a king to lead them. Ole Samuel had been in service to the people since Hannah weaned him at age three and delivered him to Eli at the temple. All his days, Samuel walked before the LORD and served. He was their Prophet. He was their Judge. Yet when Samuel was old and gray, the people grumbled that they wanted a king ‘like the other nations.’ (1 Samuel 8:20)

Of course, the people had the best king there could be, God Himself. He was their King and they were His people. He protected them:

So the Philistines were subdued and did not again enter the territory of Israel. And the hand of the Lord was against the Philistines all the days of Samuel. The cities that the Philistines had taken from Israel were restored to Israel, from Ekron to Gath, and Israel delivered their territory from the hand of the Philistines. There was peace also between Israel and the Amorites. (1 Samuel 7:13-14).

He delivered Civil peace:

Samuel judged Israel all the days of his life. And he went on a circuit year by year to Bethel, Gilgal, and Mizpah. And he judged Israel in all these places. (1 Samuel 7:15-16).

He instilled spiritual peace: (the people were sorrowful of their sins and repented in deep humility)

From the day that the ark was lodged at Kiriath-jearim, a long time passed, some twenty years, and all the house of Israel lamented after the LORD. (1 Samuel 7:2)

Everything was orderly and calm. Yet the people weren’t satisfied and wanted a king they could see. The pleaded with Samuel. Samuel warned them and prophesied to them what would happen if they got a king.

And Samuel prayed to the Lord. And the Lord said to Samuel, “Obey the voice of the people in all that they say to you, for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected me from being king over them. According to all the deeds that they have done, from the day I brought them up out of Egypt even to this day, forsaking me and serving other gods, so they are also doing to you. Now then, obey their voice; only you shall solemnly warn them and show them the ways of the king who shall reign over them.” (1 Samuel 8:6b-9).

The people clamor for a king.

And Samuel told them. A king would do terrible things to them. He would take their maidens, he would take their lands, he would take their men for war. He would take their oxen. He would take their grain. He would make them slaves.

The people still cried out for a king. God granted it. (1 Samuel 8:22)

There are many deep theological lessons in this chapter and in the entire books of 1 and 2 Samuel. The obvious ones are these:

1. Pray to God always for advice and to seek His face. Samuel did. The people didn’t.
2. Be grateful for continued peace in your nation and in your hearts. Israel forgot, and became discontent.
3. Listen to the voice of God, He tells the truth. The people heard Samuel repeat God’s words, that their kings would lead them wrongly. They rejected His word. Today we don’t have a prophet to listen directly to the voice of God to tell us His ways, but we have the bible. Believe it. God tells the truth. He always tells us ahead of time. The axiom still is in force: “If you do this, then this will happen. If you do not do this, then that won’t happen.”

“If… then…” statements are linking words that introduce conditions. For example: “If you obey me, then you shall be my treasured possession” (Exodus 19:5). The condition of being God’s treasured possession, is that his people were to obey him. That of course has massive bearing on the whole OT and God’s dealings with his people. (source)

4. Always depend on God. Always depend on God. Always depend on God. Always depend on God. How many times must we say it and believe it? The Israelites depended on God for many years and for many years and decades peace reigned. To this very day under the New Covenant, depending on God brings the most blessing, the most growth, the most pleasure to God and the most benefit to us.

Our Jesus is our High Priest, deliverer, protector, sustainer, provider, friend. Always depend on Him.

But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. (1 Peter 2:9)

Posted in encouragement, God, israel, old testament, repentance

Repentance is more than just "turning".

As one reads through Hosea, particularly chapter 7, it is amazing the number of metaphors God uses to show Israel’s perfidy. They were separated from their God and Protector through their own actions. God hadn’t gone anywhere, Israel had. They needed to repent and turn to Him.

However there is turning and there is turning. God was angry that Israel turned to idols. They turned to Egypt. They turned to Assyria. They turned to themselves, in their own beds crying and wailing. (“They do not cry to me from the heart, but they wail upon their beds”; Hosea 7:14) They turned a lot. They didn’t turn the right way.

They turn, but not upward,  (Hosea 7:16a)

Turn upward!

Judas turned. In the KJV of Matthew 27:3 it says, “Then Judas, which had betrayed him, when he saw that he was condemned, repented himself, and brought again the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and elders,”

Did Judas repent? No. He turned, he felt grief, he refused to look at his sin… but he didn’t turn upward.

Easton’s Bible Dictionary says there are several words for repent used in the bible. In the case of Judas the verb is “metamelomai is used of a change of mind, such as to produce regret or even remorse on account of sin, but not necessarily a change of heart. This word is used with reference to the repentance of Judas (Matt. 27:3).

The other word for repentance according to Easton’s is “Metanoeo, meaning to change one’s mind and purpose, as the result of after knowledge. This verb, with (3) the cognate noun metanoia, is used of true repentance, a change of mind and purpose and life, to which remission of sin is promised.”

In Judas’ case, his turning was not upward.

In your grief over sin, in your restlessness in finding peace, in your agitation, turn, not from one worldly thing to another, but upward!

The lessons of Hosea 7 are many. One is, that God is looking down upon His elect. He is looking. Look upward! See Him! Our holy Savior as High Priest is looking at us, loving us, calling to us to repent. Repentance is a matter of turning, but turning in the right direction, and it is having a right heart condition. Judas’ heart wasn’t right. Ephraim’s heart wasn’t right. They cried but it wasn’t from the heart. Judas cried, but it wasn’t from the heart. If you cry over your sins, is it from the heart? If you turn from your sin, is it in the right direction? We have learned that a horizontal turning is not the right direction because the only thing in our horizontal field of vision is the world. The world doesn’t forgive. God in heaven forgives. Upward is the right direction and having the right heart attitude is important too.

because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved.” (Romans 10:9).

Posted in america, mark of the beast, repentance, salvation, tribulation

US company wants to bring free wi-fi to 100% of world: mark of the beast technology?

I enjoyed Rapture Ready editor Terry James’s essay this week called Tribulation Technologies Tightening. The title is evocative, isn’t it? Mr James said, “Things are progressing so quickly in the area of people-control technologies that I must admit I simply can’t keep up.

What he is referring to is the fact that during the prophesied 7-year tribulation period at the end of the end of days, certain technologies will have been developed which will aid certain events to come to pass. For example, this verse:

“He required everyone—small and great, rich and poor, free and slave—to be given a mark on the right hand or on the forehead. And no one could buy or sell anything without that mark, which was either the name of the beast or the number representing his name.” (Revelation 13:16-17)

For it to come to fruition, first, there must exist some sort of tracking and identification technology that the antichrist and false prophet can even begin to catch up to and track each person, “everyone”, in order to force them to take the mark. Second, there must be some sort of technology in place that tracks financial purchases at every point of sale so that people without the mark will be banned at that point of sale from buying anything.

Here is another verse where some sort of technology will exist that will become part of the verse’s fulfillment:

“For three and a half days some from the peoples and tribes and languages and nations will gaze at their dead bodies and refuse to let them be placed in a tomb. and those who dwell on the earth will rejoice over them and make merry and exchange presents, because these two prophets had been a torment to those who dwell on the earth.” (Revelation 11:9-10)

This was an ancient way of saying ‘the whole world.’

And how will the whole world gaze at their bodies for three and a half days, the mews getting around so fast that people have time to go out and buy and exchange gifts? Television. Satellite. Cell phones. But even then, there are many places in the world where people don’t have electricity, or tv’s or cell phones or cell phone coverage. Additionally, countries like China and North Korea have censored online activity, denying their citizenry the opportunity to view and participate in world news.

But now there’s the following interesting news:
“There’s really nothing that is technically impossible to this.”
Company plans to beam free Wi-fi to every person on Earth from space
[O]ne ambitious organisation called the Media Development Investment Fund (MDIF) is planning to turn the age of online computing on its head by giving free web access to every person on Earth. Known as Outernet, MDIF plans to launch hundreds of satellites into orbit by 2015. And they say the project could provide unrestricted Internet access to countries where their web access is censored, including China and North Korea. Using something known as datacasting technology, which involves sending data over wide radio waves, the New York-based company says they’ll be able to broadcast the Internet around the world. The Outernet team claim that only 60% of the world’s population currently have access to the wealth of knowledge that can be found on the Internet. This is because, despite a wide spread of Wi-FI devices across the globe, many countries are unable or unwilling to provide people with the infrastructure needed to access the web.

Well, the so-called outernet would certainly take care of the problem of 40% of the world not having access to instantaneous news, wouldn’t it.

In other news I’ve been amazed at the speed with which America has declined. I was born in 1960, at a time when there was the gold standard, US astronauts zooming to the moon and back, winning the cold war, beating the Russians at Olympic Hockey, and being the world’s sole superpower. Nothing was impossible and it seemed like the US could and would go on forever.

That was an illusion, as the 2007-2008 economic crash showed us. The National Review has a good article on the US decline.

The United States of Decline
America unravels at an increasingly dizzying pace. America is unraveling at a stunning speed and to a staggering degree. This decline is breathtaking, and the prognosis is dim. For starters, Obama now rules by decree. Reportedly for the 27th time, he has changed the rules of Obamacare singlehandedly, with neither congressional approval nor even ceremonial resolutions to limit his actions. Obama needs no such frivolities. “That’s the good thing about being president,” Obama joked on February 10. “I can do whatever I want.” In an especially bitter irony, Obama uttered these despicable words while guiding French president François Hollande through Monticello, the home of Thomas Jefferson — a key architect of America’s foundation of limited government.

Earth’s sole superpower is sagging where it should be No. 1. America has slouched to No. 12 on the 2014 Heritage Foundation/Wall Street Journal Index of Economic Freedom. “Now considered only a ‘mostly free’ economy, the U.S. has earned the dubious distinction of having recorded one of the longest sustained declines in economic freedom, second only to Argentina, of any country in the [20-year] history of the Index,” the report states. “The U.S. is the only country to have recorded a loss of economic freedom each of the past seven years.”

In my personal opinion, having been an active and acute observer of American life and cultural mores for 50 years, the end is near. I am daily amazed at the implosion of just about every aspect of both American and global life. The decline of morals, the persecution of the Christian religion (higher now than ever in history), declining economy, craven entertainment, unscrupulous personal and governmental finances, rising lack of conscience, the emergence of technologies, church tares over-running the pews, extreme weather, geo-political collapses (Kiev anyone?), natural disasters, all occurring at once and so constantly, and with ever increasing extremity, all serve to show me and perhaps you too that truly the end is near.

The Lord has given his world 2000 years to heed the words of Messiah. What a gracious and long-suffering Savior we have. He said that He would build His church and that when it is complete the rapture would come and He would then turn His attention to finish the transgression of Israel. (Matthew 16:18, Romans 11:25, Daniel 9:24).

I believe the time is short to repent and become folded in to the beauty and certainty of the Lord’s church. He will whisk His bride home and then unleash the worst wrath and times upon the earth that ever was or will be. (Matthew 24:21). Please heed these things. Please, please repent.

What is repentance and is it necessary for salvation?

Is repentance required for salvation?

Repentance

The Doctrine of Repentance

Posted in faith, john wesley, repentance

The isthmus of life

“I desire to have both heaven and hell ever in my eye, while I stand on this isthmus of this life, between two boundless oceans.” ~John Wesley, 1747

An isthmus is a narrow strip of land connecting two larger land areas, usually with water on either side. A tombolo is an isthmus where the strip of land consists of a spit or bar.

The sandy isthmus or tombolo connecting
North and South Bruny Island in Tasmania, Australia

One of my favorite spots on earth is at Lubec Maine, and this shot is of the East Quoddy Lighthouse at Campobello Island, New Brunswick Canada. It is across from Lubec. The famous tides in this area rush in and rise to heights of thirty feet or more. This narrow spit of sand submerges in furious fashion when the tide comes in and covers it up.

If you are standing on the sand when the tide comes in you will find that the current stirs up the sand and pebbles and what you thought was solid to stand on becomes completely unstable. The forces of the water sweep you off your feet and carry you away. Your strength will not able to overcome the strength of the water. Its chilling effect weakens you and hypothermia sets in rapidly. The webpage for the lighthouse warns–

“If you become stranded on the islands by the tide, wait for rescue. Even former keepers of this lighthouse have lost their lives by misjudging the strong, frigid, fast-rising tidal currents, and tide-pressurized unstable pebble ocean floor, while attempting to make this crossing. During a summer in the 1990s, two visitors attempted to swim across this passage. One made it across, but the other was swept away by the current. After a rescue by boat, both had been stricken with hypothermia, were rushed to the hospital — and luckily, survived.”

The page ends with this warning:

DANGER!–TAKE NO RISKS & DO NOT LINGER!

We think of Wesley’s notion of life as an isthmus. It is narrow and temporary. The boundless oceans of heaven and hell are on either side, pressing in. Eventually the land gives way and we are carried away by one, or the other.

Which direction you go depends on your attitude toward Jesus. At the moment of your death, the difference in direction will all come down to one point, one only. Jesus. He will lift you from the hopeless, chilling waters of your looming eternity in hell and bring you to the warm bosom of Himself in glorious heaven. The difference in which boundless ocean you will spend your eternity is repentance. Repent and be saved!

What, then, is the connection between repentance and salvation? The Book of Acts seems to especially focus on repentance in regards to salvation (Acts 2:38; 3:19; 11:18; 17:30; 20:21; 26:20). To repent, in relation to salvation, is to change your mind in regard to Jesus Christ. In Peter’s sermon on the day of Pentecost (Acts chapter 2), he concludes with a call for the people to repent (Acts 2:38). Repent from what? Peter is calling the people who rejected Jesus (Acts 2:36) to change their minds about Him, to recognize that He is indeed “Lord and Christ” (Acts 2:36). Peter is calling the people to change their minds from rejection of Christ as the Messiah to faith in Him as both Messiah and Savior.

Repentance and faith can be understood as “two sides of the same coin.” It is impossible to place your faith in Jesus Christ as the Savior without first changing your mind about who He is and what He has done. Whether it is repentance from willful rejection or repentance from ignorance or disinterest, it is a change of mind. Biblical repentance, in relation to salvation, is changing your mind from rejection of Christ to faith in Christ.

What is repentance and is it necessary for salvation?

So this is the message: DANGER!–TAKE NO RISKS & DO NOT LINGER! Every day one lives on earth without knowing Jesus is a danger. You are taking risks with your eternity. Do not linger in repentance and faith in Jesus.

Posted in bible jesus, repentance, salvation, witnessing

KISS: Keep It Simple, Sailor. The Gospel isn’t complicated

I invite you to listen to this very convicting and wonderful sermon on How to Recognize True Repentance by Pastor Don Green. It was delivered last month at the Truth Matters conference. You can listen to the sermon or read a transcript, but listening to it is the best way for you to have the impact. I was deeply moved by it, and was uplifted as always by the true words of Jesus in the Gospels the pastor shared throughout the sermon.

Fall surely is a great time of year. The air is freshened, the colors are out, and the seasons are changing. “To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven: A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted; A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing; A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away; A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak; A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace.” (Ecclesiastes 3:1-8)

Adam Clarke’s commentary of those verses says, “Every thing has its time and season. God by his providence governs the world, and has determined particular things and operations to particular times. In those times such things may be done with propriety and success. However if we neglect the appointed seasons we sin against this providence and become the authors of our own distresses. God has given to man that portion of duration called time; the space in which all the operations of nature, of animals, and intellectual beings, are carried on. But while nature is steady in its course, and animals faithful to their instincts, man devotes it to a great variety of purposes, very frequently to that for which God never made time, space, or opportunity.”

God is our first season and our last season, and He is the season at all times. Make sure your relationship with Jesus is not a seasonal activity, one that comes and goes, but is everlasting and sure. All else comes and goes, His love is eternal. Stay within it in prayerful attitude, grateful for blessings for all the things He sends to us in their own due season.

JESUS AS FORGIVER

The Lord is sovereign. He wields all authority in heaven and on earth (Matthew 28:18) and that means our Lord has been given all authority to judge. He specifically said so in John 5:22. Repentance is the simple truth of the Gospel. It isn’t fixing social ills. It isn’t reaching out to have conversations with other religions. It isn’t simply “accepting Christ” as if WE have to find HIM acceptable…. It is personal awareness for your own sins, mourning over those sins, and appealing to Jesus for forgiveness of those sins, and finally, turning from those sins by making Jesus Lord and submitting to His will in us. It is repentance.

When I was living aboard the sailboat with my husband, there is a common adage all sailors know. It’s KISS, “Keep It Simple, Sailor”. When you’re out in the middle of the ocean you depend on each other and the systems aboard your boat to stay alive and make port safely. Everything is stripped away, and it’s just you, the boat, and the wind. KISS meant that the more complicated you make the systems aboard your boat, the more likely it is that they will fail, putting you at risk of death.

The Gospel is simple. Christianity, especially American Christianity, has made it complicated. We have been told that somehow we are failing if we are at odds with Catholics, or Mormons, or Muslims. Repentance isn’t to exhibit a display of hatred of other people’s sins. While it is OK to be upset at homosexuality or gay marriage or abortion, it should not be at the expense of mourning over and hatred of our own sins. We have been told that we must be peaceful and unite in our common love of love. Not so. Jesus is singular. He isn’t to be melded with other religions, He isn’t to be ignored, and He isn’t one of many paths. He is THE way, THE truth, and THE life. “Repent, and ye shall be saved. Refuse to repent, and ye shall perish.” (Luke 13:5) Jesus only, sin, and repentance. Keep it Simple, Sailor. We repent, and then we call others to repentance. That’s it.

Remember to KISS, Keep it Simple, Sailor! It is all about Jesus, our sin and His forgiveness.When was the last time you actually cried over your own sin? When was the last time you were broken and ashamed before God at the creature you used to be, and cried in joy at the grace He has afforded you to become a new creation? Think about it. If it has been too long, a good dose of prayerful repentance does the spiritual body good. “II Corinthians 7:10, NIV. “Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death.”

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